Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fuzzy Felted (and Feline) Frivolity

Presenting.... the felted fuzzy feet. As you can see, there's still quite a bit of stitch definition here. They only spent about 10 minutes in the super hot water, and if I'd left them in any longer, they wouldn't fit me. Therefore, I'm supremely happy with the way they are. They're comfy and soft and I've already used them to keep my tootsies toasty.

The felted Tychus, as modeled by my Christmapotamus. This one lost almost all stitch definition in the four or five rounds through the heavy agitation cycles. I probably left it in for one cycle too long, but who's counting? When this sucker was still wet, it weighed about 80 pounds. Now that it's dry, it's of course not as heavy, but it's also going to take one bruiser of a kid to be able to support this on his head. From what I hear, though, my nephew just might be that bruiser, so after I show off the hat at the yarn store, Calvin might just get a new hat. I can't really tell if it's a this-winter hat or a next-winter hat. I'm no good with baby head sizes.

The felted pumpkin also lost most of its stitch definition; it went through as many rounds as the Tychus hat. I wasn't very concerned about size for the pumpkin, just that it felt as much as possible. I haven't taken any pictures of it yet, because I still haven't put it all together. I need to find the fiberfill and get my act together, I know, but there are much more important things going on. (Like, I'm working on the comeback project of the year. More details later. You'll be so proud of me. Any guesses? Put them in the comments. If you're the first one to get it right, you get a prize*. Brenda, you're disqualified because I already told you about it. Besides, you get prizes all the time.)

Yesterday I had a dog blog, today it's a kitty ditty. Feline frivolity that is, black gold, Texas tea... Ahem.

I have this wonderful bench just inside my front door that used to belong to my grandmother. It's one of the two pieces of furniture that I own that I'm actually proud of. Well, it's currently the favorite spot for my kids. They switch sleeping spots every few weeks, and when I came back from Christmas, this was their new place. Remember when they were up on the cat-pole-platform and kept falling off? Well, now Krusty has a new trick she'd (rather not) like me to share.

Sometimes she does try to balance her fat little body on that arm rest, but here she's not climbing up, not climbing down, not doing anything but resting. In fact, I think she fell asleep like this shortly after I finished taking her picture and mocking her. She's just got her little front arms up on the arm rest and her little back tootsies standing on the bench itself. This cracks me up.

I probably took half a dozen pictures of her like this, and she didn't budge. Apparently this is very comfortable for her. I was sneaking around trying to be quiet and not startle her, but she didn't care. This is why I feel like I have her full permission to share this highly unusual pose with the world. If she doesn't like it, she can just climb onto her giant vomit powered spaceship and go back to her home planet.

Carrot got jealous of all the attention and decided to get in on the action by lending some (moral?) support.

*This is my blog's first contest! The comeback project has been both mentioned and photographed in this blog in the past. Everyone is welcome to participate!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Shoulder Sweater Success

First of all, I had a marvelous Christmas. It was spent with Mom, Dad, Midget, Aunt Karyl Lynn, and Mikey. There was SO much good food, a sprinkling of snow, plenty of presents, and a ton of love and hugs. I really enjoyed a relaxing time at my parents' house.

And the shoulder sweater? It was a success!
I'm pretty sure that after he opened it, he only took it off once to change his shirt underneath, and otherwise kept the sweater on constantly while I was home. One of the things that happened during the conditioner bath was that the sleeve got significantly longer. When I pointed that out to Dad, he said, "That's okay, sometimes my hand gets cold, too!" He's so supportive. He really likes it, and I think it looks pretty good on him, too. Photo credit goes to my mom, who got a brand new Kodak EasyShare digital camera and printer dock from Santa. This is one of her very first pictures using her new camera.

One of the most entertaining parts of Christmas day was when Midget got her presents. Midget is a beautiful Shih Tzu royalty whose dominion includes the entirety of my parents' property. I had gotten her two little rope toys at Target for Christmas, and when it was her turn to open her present, I handed the package to Dad, told him it was for Midget, and asked if he wanted to help her open it. As soon as she heard it was for her, she left the tissue paper she had been shredding on the floor and ran over, grabbed the package out of his hand, and carried it off to the middle of the floor. The following ensued:

The pouncing begins.

Pausing for a wrapping paper snack.

Ripping off the ends...

...and enjoying the spoils! Since she went for the white rope first, I thought I'd show Mom and Dad the black one, but as soon as I went to pick it up, she ran over, grabbed it out of my hand, went back and laid on the white one while she chewed on the black one. I guess she showed me! Later in the day, she opened her own present from Aunt Karyl Lynn, too, and proceeded to pull green fuzzies from her new squeaky toy. Silly pooch.

For anyone keeping track, I did finish my
Fuzzy Feet in time to felt them. I also felted the Tychus hat and my Knitty pumpkin. (Wow, I just now realized that all three of those things are from Knitty. Coolies.) Anyway, I keep forgetting to take pictures, so I'll try to do that tonight and share the fuzzy felted goodness with you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Picture Pages, Sort Of

I promised pictures today, and I won't disappoint you. I finished the shoulder sweater last night, and even gave it a conditioner bath to soften the fibers. I'm hoping that the resulting softer, looser fibers won't make it too loose to be worth it. Maybe a few minutes in the dryer will help. I guess we'll find out on Christmas!

This is really the best way to display it, even though you can't tell what it is when it's folded up like this. The sleeve is basically folded into thirds and tucked into the neck. I wasn't sure if I'd like the stripes at the cast off of the neck, but now I think I do.

This is not an easy sucker to get a picture of, especially when you're playing both model and photographer. Maybe Dad will let me take a picture of him wearing it. I'm assuming it will look much different (and hopefully much better) on him, as we vary in size. I'm really eager to find out if it works, and if it's what he was hoping for. Think warm thoughts, everyone!

The only thing I'd really like to finish before Christmas at this point is my second fuzzy foot, in order to felt them while I'm at my parents' house. Please note that this is a "like to finish" not a "need to finish" project. I have a couple other things to felt, too... my Knitty pumpkin and the brown and red Tychus hat that was in the store as a sample. It should felt really nicely and turn out really cool. Maybe I'll get it small enough for Calvin. We shall see.

There probably won't be any more posts until after Christmas, so... happy knitting to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why It's Always Worth It To Knit For Babies

Enough said.

(Only four more inches to go on the shoulder sweater. Pictures tomorrow when it's DONE!!! Oh, and you can get TWO snowflakes out of one ball of angora, instead of three snowflakes out of two balls like I originally thought. Two snowflakes down, two to go.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mind Like a Drunken Monkey

I'm excited to be able to share with you some gems from recent web searches that have led people to this blog. There have been plenty of searches for "drunken monkey clothes" and "monkey knitting patterns", but I especially liked how these were worded:

"How to Learn Drunken Monkey"
(Umm, drink a lot, then act like a monkey. Who would be able to translate anyway?)

"drunken aunt and nephew"
(Calvin? A lush? Who knew.)

"mind like a drunken monkey"
(Welcome to my world, baby.)

"show me a drunken monkey"
(...and I'll show you some poo-covered walls.)

The Christmas knitting goes well. I cast on for the neck last night and got about an inch (out of 8) finished. I have more knitting time tonight, and Wednesday night, etc. And as I told Brenda, I have plenty of time.

For those of you still looking for monkey knitting patterns, here are two of my favorites:
Mr. Dangly and Monty the Monkey

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh, Me of Little Faith

Please observe:
The Shoulder Sweater. *angels sing*

You're right, it's still on the needles. But I want you to look at some important benchmarks.

1. This is where I picked up while attending a Christmas party Friday night. (The party was at my manager's house. I wasn't the only one knitting.) I probably accomplished three or four inches while I was there. I know this is where I started because there was a knot in the skein at this point. I hate that.

2. This is where I attached the second ball of gray yarn. The black stripes, by the way, look cool when the sleeve is not on my arm. The black stripes look too skinny and dorky when the sleeve is on my arm. I am hoping that my dad's not-quite-as-buff arm will not make the stripes look skinny and dorky.

3. This is where I currently stand. I am ready to add the neck piece which will hopefully hold the thing on in order to keep his shoulder covered. I must admit, the ribbing and the wool make this an incredibly warm sleeve. I really hope Dad likes it. I hope even more that it will serve the purpose for which it was requested. And I hope it's not too scratchy for him.

Frankly, I'm shocked that I'm this far along. So is Mom, who mocked me incessantly last night on the phone. She didn't even believe I was this far along. She'd better read my blog today.

Saturday I worked in the yarn store. I bought some 100% French Angora and made this:
I should have enough to make two more of them. My mother thinks I'm not going to have time. Maybe she's trying to reverse-psychology me. (I have special permission from the Board of Verbology to use "reverse-psychology" as a verb. Leave me alone.)

I also worked on this at the store. It's the cuff for my first glove. This Trekking is awesome... I can't really tell as I'm knitting where one stripe ends and the next begins, but when I look back at what I've knitted, the stripes are fairly obvious. I'm pretty sure that's because at least two strands of color go from one stripe to the next. It's simply beautiful yarn, although the more I work with it, the less brown I see, and the more blacks and purples and blues and tans. I still think they will match my coat.

Today has been a good day for office gifts. I got a really cool project bag and a ball of wool/recycled silk from Kimmy, a neat-o frame decorated with buttons, tiny scissors, and a tape measure bow from Kate, and candles and the most faboo t-shirt from Leslie. I want to wear it every day for the rest of my life. Wouldn't you?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Look At This

First, look at this.

Okay, now look at this.

This is Jessica. You may remember her from the October knitting party. She is kicking major bootie on that blue scarf (she's finished an entire ball of Paton's wool and learned how to add on the second ball today), and she just started that purple one yesterday! Brand-spanking-new knitters who have the Christmas knitting crazies just crack me up. But isn't she doing wonderfully? I am so proud and impressed. She has been bringing in the blue scarf to show off her progress for the past week or so. I simply love it. Keep up the fantastic work, Jessica!

In other, unrelated news, congratulations to
my brother on his new blog title and format. Never having experienced such a transformation, I can only assume that this is a momentus event in his blog life, and therefore I can only heap happiness and well wishes upon him in this "significant", if currently-content-lacking endeavor. I hope this will greatly relieve your psychological pressure, brother.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So Proud

Given my past history of knitter's ADD and the vast number of distractions and alternate activities that could be taking up my time these days, I must confess how proud I am of my single-minded purpose this holiday season: finishing dad's shoulder sweater.

I haven't let myself get carried away with that snowflake pattern, and I certainly haven't used any leftover sock yarn just to see "how that snowflake might work up" with it.

Any yarn in my stash must wait, especially since I bought it a while ago because it was absolutely stunning, and didn't really have a plan in mind for it. In fact, that will be the stuff that's easiest to avoid; I certainly wouldn't go looking for a new pattern to try with it during this incredibly pressed knitting season.

And I certainly wouldn't cast on any new projects, especially not any new projects meant for myself. Sure, I need gloves that will match my beautiful brown wool winter coat, but that can wait until after Christmas. In fact, the new year will provide a wonderful opportunity to search for the appropriate yarn, and then start the gloves. They will be my beautiful 2006 gloves!

It has been difficult, but it has been worth it. Every day, inches upon inches are completed on the shoulder sweater, and every picture I take shows the immense progress that has been done. The blood, sweat, and tears will carry me through, of this I am confident.

Monday, December 12, 2005

One Flake at a Time

This snowflake, knit from some random thin cotton I had in my house, from the very first pattern I've actually used from my pattern-a-day calendar, took me about an hour and a half to finish. Eureka! Christmas gifts for those for whom I had no idea what to give!

This is Christmas Corner. This is the only spot in my apartment (except for this wall) where there is Christmas cheer to be found. I took this picture for Brenda, who loves Christmas trees, and also, I suspect, the goodies found underneath/next to/near/beside them. Do you see that empty spot on the piano next to the big boxes on the left? I took this picture in a rare moment when there was no cat sitting there. Apparently I only clean off surfaces so that cats can sit there.

I finished four sewing projects this weekend. They are so finished, that if you look hard enough in the above Christmas picture, you can see them all wrapped up in boxes already. Do you see them?

I also worked diligently on my father's shoulder sweater. This *will* be done for Christmas. I'm not quite to the elbow yet, but it seems to be going quickly. I'm bummed that I had to restart it, but I think this time it will be much nicer than whatever stuff I was trying to do last time. This is one of those situations where it's very helpful to have an actual pattern.

Lastly, here is my newly reorganized Knitting Corner. I love to reorganize Knitting Corner. Especially when I should actually be knitting. Isn't Knitting Corner so pretty?

Friday, December 9, 2005

Don't Mock the White Death

The first half of the prediction came true. We closed the office shortly after yesterday's post, and it took me an hour and 20 minutes to make the 20 mile commute home. Most of that time was spent less than three miles from my apartment. I was lucky, however. The average time for the after-work commuter yesterday was between three and four hours. This picture was taken out the back door of my apartment building. There's usually a lake there, by the way. Unfortunately, the second half of the prediction didn't come to pass, so I'm back at work today, even though most schools are closed. I suppose I'm happy the roads are clear(er).

I missed out on a trip to Joy's house last night for dinner and crafting because of the weather, and when I told Brenda about it, she said she had called the white death upon us because she's jealous of when Joy and I spend time together. I thought that was pretty rude of her. I mean, if she hadn't moved to Tennessee, we wouldn't have this problem. Anyway, the kids watched me straighten* the living room and cut some fabric and sew some stuff last night while the snow glistened happily outside. They look utterly thrilled in the picture, no? Don't worry, they aren't about to kill me, they had just woken up. Silly fluffballs.

(*By "straighten", I mean, "move stuff out of the way so I can put more stuff there.")

Anyway, there should be some significant house cleaning** over the weekend, plus some more sewing, plus some significant knitting progress, enough so that I should have plenty to show you (maybe) on Monday. Cross your fingers! (Okay, now you can uncross them, because I know you can't knit with crossed fingers. Silly.)

(**By "cleaning", I mean, "put most of the stuff away where it belongs so that I can actually walk through the house without tripping over stuff and inventing new dancing/jumping moves.")

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The White Death Cometh

So I guess there are a few benefits to having inconsiderate neighbors and crappy apartment laundry facilities. Currently, only one of the two dryers in the building is working, and since it takes two go-rounds in the dryer to get clothes to an actual "dry" state, and each go-round takes approximately 45 minutes, and two other apartment dwellers were using the dryer before me, and one of them couldn't figure out that they actually needed to take their clothes OUT of the dryer once they were dry... I got to stay up until about 2:30am finishing my laundry. I would have gone to bed earlier, but due to incredible planning on my part, all of my bed accoutrements were the last to go in the dryer. (Everything had to be washed, since Carrot left me a little present on the bed during the day yesterday.)

So what about that is the benefit, you say? All of that extra time was used for knitting, of course! I got quite a bit accomplished last night. I made another 11
button snowmen, finished my super secret cabling project, and worked on my dad's shoulder sweater. Funny thing, that. I decided to re-start the sweater, based strongly on a pattern in this book. I thought I wasn't going to have to start over, but what I had so far was way off in terms of stitch count, and I think this will work better. I started trying to figure out exactly how many inches I needed to knit on it every day in order to finish it by Christmas, and since I'm not entirely sure I can knit that much every day (on one project!! every day!!), I'm not going to tell you how much I have to do every day, I'm just going to get it done. I can do it. Honest. It's the only thing I absolutely HAVE to have knitted for Christmas. You know, since the cable thing is done.

They're predicting a big snow storm for this afternoon and overnight, and I'm really hoping they'll have to close the office tomorrow so I can stay home for some extra quality knitting time. Chances of this actually happening? Probably pretty low. But one can always hope, can't one?

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Not A Cat Blog

Remember this yarn? This beautiful Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in these gorgeous autumn colors that was to become a beautiful pair of Jaywalker socks for yours truly? Remember how the sock was so gorgeous? This beautiful yarn that teased me and taunted me and made me believe that it was my new best friend?

Well, the original sock and two other attempts at sock-making have been frogged, and the yarn is back in a tight little ball and it is in my bag and it will stay there and it will think about what it has done. And it will sit and it will think and it will stay there until such time that I determine it has had enough time, and only then will I allow it to come out and play again. Bad yarn.


Once upon a time I changed a purl stitch into a knit stitch by dropping all the stitches in the rows above the mistake, then picking them up the correct way all the way back up. This feat made me feel like good ol' Leo in Titanic: "I'm the king of the world!" Well, I have a little cabling project that I've been puffing along with since the weekend, and last night I realized that about three rows back, I twisted that one cable the wrong way. Alas and alack, what to do? Attempt to frog the last three rows and try to get all the cable stitches back on the needle in the right order, or drop those four stitches and try to pick them back up with the cable twisting the correct way? Right. Definitely the latter.

No pictures, and no documentary of how I did it. The project is a gift. But I was successful in my attempt, even though I did trap my working yarn behind one of the columns of stitches in the process and had to take that column out again, untrap the yarn, and pick that column back up again. This was tougher than dropping all the stitches in a straight rib and picking them back up, so I feel like I've reached another milestone. Plus last night I was able to help a lady at the yarn store with her sock by diagnosing the problem, helping her undo the work back to where the problem started, and teaching her how to do it correctly. These things excite me. I know I still don't know everything, but I love being knowledgable enough to fix my own mistakes and help other people find and fix their own.


Okay, so yesterday I talked about Krusty sleeping up on that platform, remember? (If you don't, you can just scroll down, you know.) Anyway, last night she made an amazing leap from the top platform to the arm of the couch in order to get to her dinner. I told her I was impressed. I told her it was an amazing leap for a five year old cat. She said, "Mrowr!!" I said, "Okay, okay! Four and a half years!" Sheesh. I didn't know she was so sensitive.

Anyway, I know this is a knitting blog and not a cat blog, but I was fortunate to snap this picture last night. Krusty was sleeping on the platform again,
and when I glanced up from my knitting, this is what I saw. Her head and one leg were hanging off the side of the platform... I don't know how she wasn't falling off. I snapped this picture and one other, and about 10 seconds later, she woke up enough to pull herself back up and fall asleep again. This picture cracks me up.

P.B. My friends are oh-so-helpful in reminding me exactly how much time that 20, no, 19 days is. Thank you, friends. You're SO helpful. Helpful helpful helpful.

Monday, December 5, 2005

20 Days

I stopped at Hancock Fabrics on Saturday (after a noon meeting and then a baby shower) and picked up some gift essentials. That's the stinky thing about wanting all your friends and loved ones to read your blog... when gift-giving time comes, you have less and less you can actually share on the blog so that no surprises are ruined.

Anywho, you'll be pleased to note that I didn't buy any yarn at HF. I bought some fabric and some felt and some buttons. A crazy amount of buttons, in fact. Why? Well, I found the cutest idea in my latest
Martha Stewart: Kids magazine.

Here's my little troupe of snowman ornaments, made from buttons, pipe cleaners, ribbon, and the tiniest isoceles triangles of orange felt. I was going to make some Santas, too, but that would have involved a lot more button buying, so I stuck with the snowmen. I'm going to give these out as office presents this year with cards, and they're so fun and easy to make, I may include them with other gifts, too. I ran out of black buttons, though, so I'll have to pick up some more before I can add more to this handsome little group. Sometimes I think the orange carrot noses look sort of like duck beaks, but I just blink my eyes, twinkle my nose and toss some fairy dust, and they're back to carrot noses.

The kids re-found the top of their tower yesterday. Carrot found it first, but Krusty was more committed to it. She kept falling asleep last night and slipping off the side of the platform, which led to some close calls and much thankfulness for sharp claws to pull her back up when she fell. I was impressed with her ability to wake up fast enough to catch herself, although I must admit to some giggling each time it happened. She slept up there all night, but Carrot slept right next to my pillow.

I keep telling people that I'm not going to abuse myself into knitting like crazy for Christmas this year, but I keep forgetting that I do actually have a few projects that NEED to be finished by then. One is my father's shoulder sweater, which I haven't worked on since early September. Another is a baby sweater for the granddaughter of the people who live up the street from my parents, and the last is a super-secret-surprise project that will be a Christmas gift. Plus I need to get my other Fuzzy Foot done before Christmas so I can take them home for felting. And that doesn't even include the sewing projects that I have planned as Christmas gifts. So in trying to convince myself (and others) that I have plenty of time to get stuff done, I'm really just in denial and I need to get myself in gear.

There's still 20 days left. I mean, come on... 20 days! That's a lot. Right?

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Annie Grook, Take Two

After weeks of careful planning about what knitting projects I'd take with me over Thanksgiving, I must confess that very little actual knitting took place. I had a good exuse, though.

Meet Calvin Kiley. He is, of course, adorable and most precious. Born Wednesday, November 23, 2005, he was 21" and 8 pounds 12 ounces. Check out my brother's blog for more details and pictures. Mom and I were incredibly fortunate to have the chance to go visit this past weekend, and even more fortunate that Calvin showed up just in time.

We were excited to see Maggie, too, and she was eager to show off all of her brand new big sister skills. We had tea parties and took walks and danced and sang and read books and played hide-and-seek (Have you ever played hide-and-seek with a three year old? It's hilarious.) and took naps and played with dolls and toys and had an all around fantastic time.

Remember those teaser pics from last week? Here are the full objects:
Here's Peter Rabbit, made from the "knit a square, make a bunny" pattern found here. The vest came from the bunny in Nursery Knits by Debbie Bliss, and just happened to fit this bunny. Happiness.

This is the other project: a baby quilt made with Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny fabric. These two projects made up 2/3 of Maggie's big sister gift, the other third being a bit Peter Rabbit picture book, which Grandma read multiple times while Maggie looked for her bunny's brass button, and checked out the bunnies on the quilt. A couple days later, Maggie got to show off her Peter Rabbit bowl and mug when we had oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast.

I got to spend time with Anthony and his family over the weekend, too. We had the meeting of the moms, and various combinations of both families got together for dinner two different times. Anthony got a digital camera over the weekend, so he was busy taking pictures of everything. We had fried mushrooms at
Kidd Valley Saturday night, I met some of his extended family, hung out with his mom and siblings, and we even got to do some sight seeing downtown on Monday afternoon.

I still have a cuff-down vs. toe-up debate to discuss for my friend Joy, that I promise I haven't forgotten about. I also have stacks of stuff looming on my desk, so I'd better get to it. Knitting content forthcoming, I promise.